The edict by Pharaoh

We can see how the time preceding the birth of Moses has been associated with great evil, which is a paradox considering that he was one of the extraordinary heroes of the Bible? Exodus 1:15-16 gives us the answer, “And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.” It appears that this event took place at around the time of the Venus transit of 1641 BC.

At the time that Moses was born, the threat to any male born was instant death. This was part of Satan's plan to destroy the Hebrew race and thereby the promised Messiah. Female children were allowed to survive, with the intention that there would be no men to side with an enemy against Egypt.

As the Israelites entered the land in 1472-1 BC, the birth of Moses who was 120 years old in that year was in the year 1592-1 BC. That makes a gap of 50 years between the transit of Venus and the birth of Moses. That's exactly the same period between the transit of 54 BC and the birth of Jesus. Once again, this is no coincidence.

Fifty years seems a long time between the order given by the King of Egypt to murder all new-born male babies and the birth of Moses. There was a lot that went on in that period according to Exodus 1:17-22, “But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses. And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.” This proves that sufficient time had passed for the numbers of the people to multiply to worrying levels (from the perspective of the Egyptians). The fifty year period is therefore credible.

We know that this plan of the King of Egypt was thwarted and that through Moses, great victories were won, God gave us His Law and the Israelites were ushered into the Promised Land. Incidentally, the Pharaoh who reigned at the time of the Exodus was Amenhotep I, who only had one child, a boy who died while very young. On a historical note, the order by Pharaoh marked by the transit on the 20th of May, 1641 BC is 28th Ziv 2519 in the Hebrew calendar. That month in modern times is called Iyyar. Ziv is a Hebrew name, which means "light" or "glow". On the same date in the Hebrew calendar, 28 Iyyar (Ziv), 1967, Jerusalem was unified. The Old City of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were conquered during the 1967 Six Day War. The day is marked in Israel as "Jerusalem Day." It is ironic that a date in 1641 BC was meant to lead to the destruction of the Jewish people by the Egyptians. The same intention was replicated in 1967 on the same date. The enemies that attacked Israel included Egypt. In both scenarios, Egypt was frustrated.

Who were the Hyksos?

As we saw on previous pages, the Egyptians wanted to limit the population of the Israelites because they were concerned that the Israelites might unite with an enemy against them. This wasn't simply some hypothetical notion. The Egyptians had a very real concern in relation to a specific threat, namely a nation known as the Hyksos. That name is translated as from the Egyptian as 'shepherd kings'.

The Hyksos were considered by the Egyptians to be of similar stock to the Israelites. They came from Canaan and Mesopotamia and spoke the same language as the Israelites. The main point of difference was that the Israelites persisted in the worship of only one god, whereas the Hyksos had numerous gods including Baal and Astarte. They appear to have entered Egypt at about the same time that Joseph became Prime Minister. According to Josephus who quotes Manetho, a 3rd century BC Egyptian historian who translated many Egyptian histories into Greek, the Hyksos were a cruel and unrelenting adversary. We must keep in mind where the sympathies of Manetho lay. One point of interest is that during the Egyptian seige of the Hyksos capital, an agreement was made whereby the Hyksos would leave never to return. Manetho's history states that 240,000 men headed in the direction of Syria, stopping in Judea and establishing a city that they called Jerusalem. We know that during Abraham's time, there was already a city in that place called Salem. The Hyksos was a the Egyptian name, but in Judea, it appears that they were known as the Jebusites, who renamed the city Jebus (the same as Jerus), in honour of the name of their tribe. Later the two names were combined to give the name Jerusalem.

Manetho made the observation that maybe these were the Israelites who were the people of the Exodus. Comparing the stories, they don't correlate either in the circumstances of the exit, or the numbers involved. It is interesting to note the Egyptian perspective, whereby 240,000 men abandoned Avaris, excluding women and children. This contradicts the conclusions of some archaeologists who claim that there would have been only 20,000 people in the whole of Canaan when the Israelites took the land. The Hyksos who inhabited Jerusalem became the enemy of the Israelites who came to destroy the idol worshippers according to the command of God. It wasn't conquered until the reign of King David some four hundred and fifty years after Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan. (2 Samuel 5:6)

Contrary to popular myth, the technology of Egypt was inferior in some respect to that of the Canaanites. For example, the chariot was unknown in Egypt prior to Joseph. There is strong evidence to suggest that Joseph encouraged some inhabitants of Canaan to come down to Egypt for the purposes of trade and to introduce their technology. This was in the mid-1700s BC. Their wealth and influence expanded over the next two centuries. In fact, they built their own cities and it appears that they even had their own Pharaohs, albeit with non-Egyptian names. One of the cities built by the Hyksos was their capital Avaris which was located on the eastern side of the Nile Delta region that we know as Goshen. It is possible that the Israelites who were hired to build the city during the period of tensions arising between the Egyptians and the Hyksos.

The Hyksos over time were becoming more and more Egyptianised, even including some of the Egyptian gods in their worship. Similarly, the Egyptians were slowly but surely taking on some of the customs of their “guests”. This began to concern Pharaohs not too long after the death of Joseph in 1703 BC. Not only were the Hyksos increasing numerically and in influence, so too were the Israelites increasing rapidly in number. Some sixty years after the death of Joseph, the Pharaoh made the decision to kill all new-born Israelite males.

As we know, this tactic failed. Moses was born in about 1592-1 BC. At the age of 40 (in 1552 BC), he killed an Egyptian in anger and fled into exile for 40 years. During that time, a new Pharaoh came to the throne. Ahmose I ruled from about 1551-1526 BC. His main claim to fame was that he drove out the Hyksos in about the fifteenth year of his reign. That would make the year about 1536 BC. The seige of the Hyksos capital of Avaris (in the eastern part of the Nile Delta) began in Ahmose I's tenth year.

At this point, there was a change of attitude by the Egyptians towards the Israelites. The Pharaoh of the Exodus was Amenhotep I whose reign was from 1526-1506 BC. As the Exodus took place in 1512-11 BC, it was well into his reign when Moses came to demand that the Israelites be released. With the Hyksos gone for more than a decade, the Pharaoh no longer saw the Israelites as a significant threat. Rather, they saw them as a valuable resource to be exploited. There may have been a further economic imperative. Having driven out and destroyed a valuable trading partner, the Egyptian economy would have taken a major hit. On top of that, Moses was wishing to depart with a major source of cheap labour.


Subsequent to the ten plagues which included the death of Amenhotep I's first-born, the Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued the Israelites to the Red Sea where the entire Egyptian army was destroyed. The most likely scenario was that the initial response of the Egyptians was devastating grief for a period of several days, giving the Israelites a head start. At a certain point, the grief of the Pharaoh turned to rage, and he became determined to kill the people whose God had decimated the population of his country and killed his only child a son whose name was Amenemhat.

The tradition of succession to the Egyptian throne usually has the eldest son (or daughter if there was no son) assuming the position of Pharaoh. As the first-born of each generation was killed during the tenth plague, the Pharaoh himself should have been at risk, except for one thing. He had two older brothers, Ahmose-Ankh who had been designated as heir five years prior to Amenhotep's reign and Ahmose-Sapair. He was therefore not the first-born, a point that is important in the Exodus story. It is recorded that Amenhotep's older brothers pre-deceased their father Ahmose I. Amenhotep was never intended to rule. If there is one thing that is evident from the Egyptian record, it is that Amenhotep I was involved in military campaigns in Nubia and Syria during his reign. Historians interpret this as a period of relative stability and peace. Pharaohs throughout history defined themselves according to the success and number of their military campaigns. However, they wouldn't bother to record embarrassing defeats. That was always left to their enemies. The loss of the army would have hampered Amenhotep's ability to wage war for years. In fact, his main focus would have been defence of the kingdom while he rebuilt the army. Another complication for the Pharaoh was that the Egyptians were initially so pleased to see the Israelites leave that they handed over a significant portion of their wealth. Although weakened financially and militarily, history records that there was a great deal of restoration work to the temples along the Nile during Amenhotep's reign, much of which may have been done in the early part of his reign. The other identifier of Amenhotep as the Pharaoh of the Exodus lies in the fact that his sole heir died at any early age. This is suggestive of the tenth plague.

The timing of the Exodus

Numbers 33:3 “They set out from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the day after the Passover the Israelites went out [of Egypt] with a high hand and triumphantly in the sight of all the Egyptians,”- (Amplified Bible) Some have mistakenly deduced that the Pharaoh at the time of The Exodus was Rameses II, also known as Rameses the Great.. It is known that he rebuilt the city known as Rameses. His reign was from 1279-1213 BC. Because of the reference to a city and a land of Rameses in the books of Genesis, Exodus and Numbers, some have assumed the time-frame of the Exodus to be in the thirteenth century BC, some two to two and a half centuries after the date that I've proposed. However, these same people obviously haven't read Genesis 47:11 which says, “Joseph settled his father and brethren and gave them a possession in Egypt in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses (Goshen), as Pharaoh commanded.”

Here we have Rameses as an alternative name for Goshen going back to the time of Joseph in the 1700s BC. We know that a city by the name of Rameses was rebuilt on top of the site of the Hyksos capital of Avaris. This was done in the 1500s. Nearly three hundred years later, Rameses II rebuilt it again. However, the whole city had to be relocated when the Nile tributary moved eastward. This relocation has created headaches for archaeologists. When Num. 33 describes how the Israelites set out from Rameses, it's talking about the city. As Avaris had been badly damaged in the seige against the Hyksos, it was important that this vital trade centre be rebuilt as quickly as possible. At its peak, the harbour could accommodate up to 300 ships. Renamed Rameses to reflect the name of the region, the majority of the Israelites were relocated to the precincts of the city very soon after its destruction in about 1524 BC for the rebuilding effort. It and its sister city Pithon were substantially rebuilt by the time of the Exodus in 1512-11 BC. The fact that they left from Rameses indicates that they were still there completing the work.


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